Book Title: Snowblind
Author: Ragnar Jonasson
Series: Dark Iceland #2
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural, Crime Thriller, Nordic Noir
Date Read: 01/05/17
Pub Date (US): 01/31/17
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.
Oh boy, I officially have a major book boyfriend crush on Ari Thor (along with a large gaggle of other women no doubt). What started out as a slow burning noir suddenly turned into a twisty, fast-paced mystery around the half way point. This is technically listed as book #2 in the Dark Iceland series, but for those of us who are reading in english rather than icelandic, this is our beginning. The first third of the book does a nice job setting up our story; we get a good amount of the current state of affairs in our lead character’s life while also getting a bit of his history. We’re given just enough to keep us hooked on Ari Thor but left wanting more that will hopefully be revealed in further books.
Again, I think we all became a little obsessed with Ari Thor from the beginning. He’s so down to earth and cute in that clueless young man way. I did feel the pacing was a bit steady until we are introduced to the crimes described in the summary, but quickly picked up after that. What I had assumed would be a cozy murder mystery soon turned into so much more! I wasn’t expecting the major twists, and I think that is what catapulted this into such a great read. I love how the book is structured; we have chapters alternating from present time to a crime that has or will happen at some point, and as the reader we are left in the dark until that beautiful moment with Ragnar brings all the pieces together and connects every detail to a perfect T. I cannot express enough how fantastic it felt to be blown away by so many twists in a single book; as a reader of many mysteries and suspenseful thrillers, it’s getting harder to find stories that feel unique and fresh. I can see this being considered a classic police procedural that is talked about for many years to come.
Overall, this was a well-written crime novel that is equal parts thorough mystery and breathtaking suspense. The fact that this book is such a compelling, character driven read only adds to the appeal, and the setting itself is like another main character adding massive amounts of intrigue and darkness. This book has only fueled my desire to visit Iceland more, and I’m sure the remainder of the series will increase this passion as well. If you are a fan of nordic noir that is an excellent example of the crime fiction genre, look no further. This series needs to go on your must read list for 2017.
While I received my arc from Minotaur Books (thank you so much!), I have to also thank Karen Sullivan over at Orenda for putting this one on my radar (and also offering to send me a few others in the series to keep me appetite satiated); without her I’d be missing out on so many fantastic books that I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on otherwise!